Sim Shagaya is one of the most powerful men in Africa. He told me the continent needs entrepreneurs with a vision, who put social good above mere profit.

By Adnan Shafi

Last October, I had the privilege of interviewing Nigerian entrepreneur Sim Shagaya, who according to Forbes magazine is one of the most influential men in Africa.

Shagaya is the founder and former chief executive officer of one of West Africa’s largest electronic commerce websites, Konga.com, and executive chairman of DealDey, a daily deal website. In 2014, Forbes named him one of Africa’s 10 most powerful men.

I spoke to Shagaya at the Anzisha prize festival, an event that unites young entrepreneurs and offers a pitching competition with a $100,000 prize. We discussed a range of topics including the role that women play in the African economy and whether wealthy entrepreneurs have a social responsibility to be philanthropists.

Shagaya emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to look beyond profit maximisation and to have “a social view of things.” He said he was interested in finding entrepreneurs who are vision-driven, “who see opportunity where nobody else does.”

And he said that women need to be involved at the highest levels in politics and business.

Shagaya is a pan-Africanist who wants to empower the continent.

THREE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  1. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur who is “socially responsible”?
  2. Should quotas be set to ensure a minimum number of women hold positions of responsibility in government and business?
  3. Can a capitalist try to maximise profit and be socially responsible at the same time?

AfricaAdnan Shafi is from Kenya and in his second year at the African Leadership Academy. He is CEO of Sauti Afrika, which produces podcasts that bring together African youth to discuss difficult topics ranging from abortion to the role of China on the continent. He is keenly interested in the law and hopes to become a lawyer and eventually become a lawmaker in Kenya. He believes that if Africa strengthens its legal systems, it will be able to break down barriers to progress.

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